A man’s death is under investigation after his body was mistaken for a training dummy, police say

CHINA GROVE, N.C. (AP) — Police in North Carolina are investigating the death of a man who officers say was mistaken for a training dummy before being recovered at an abandoned log cabin.

China Grove police officers responded Oct. 10 to a report of a body and found 34-year-old Robert Paul Owens dead, police said in a news release on Tuesday.

During the investigation, police said officers learned that a groundskeeper spotted Owens’ body a day earlier while mowing. The groundskeeper told police he didn’t report the body because he thought it was a dummy used for law enforcement training that had taken place on the property in recent years.

An autopsy was conducted Friday, but the preliminary findings show no signs of assault or trauma to the body, police said. They are awaiting a toxicology report to help determine the cause of Owens’ death.

Police know Owens was alive on Sunday afternoon, but can’t confirm a time of death since they haven’t received the final autopsy report, Chief Andrew Deal said in an email. China Grove is 28 miles (45 kilometers) northeast of Charlotte.

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